Halfway through the 2015 season the Detroit Tigers find themselves in unfamiliar territory. They are playing .500 baseball with a 44-44 record and sit nine games back of the Kansas City Royals for first place in the AL Central.
With dreams of a fifth consecutive AL Central title diminishing, the Tigers now shift their sights to the two wild-card spots. At the All-Star break, they sit 3.5 games back of the Houston Astros for the second wild-card spot.
The Tigers missed out on a prime opportunity to get into a wild-card spot just before the All-Star break. They faced off against the division rival Minnesota Twins in a four-game series at Target Field in Minnesota. The first game went as most of the others have this season; the Tigers won 4-2.
[su_pullquote]”And there lies the main need for Detroit, a starting pitcher.”[/su_pullquote]In game two, the Tigers were leading 6-0 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, and then the wheels fell off. The Twins ended up fighting back and winning that game 8-6 thanks to a walk-off home run from Brian Dozier.
The Twins would go on to take three out of the four games from Tigers, killing any chances of a wild card berth before the break.
“I don’t think any of us are happy with the way the first half of the season has gone,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an interview with Fox Sports Detroit. “Were in a position that we’re still in contention, we still have a chance to win. If we play the way we’re capable of playing in the second half and some guys step it up, we’re in a spot where we could be in the postseason.”
It is clear Dombrowski is not ready to throw in the towel and give up on the season. He still believes his team can win, but there are a few moves he is going to have to make if the Tigers want to be playing in October.
The Tigers’ starting pitching is not like it used to be. With the departure of Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, the staff is not as great as it once was.[su_pullquote align=”right”]”The Tigers’ starting pitching is not like it used to be.”[/su_pullquote]
And there lies the main need for Detroit, a starting pitcher. New arrivals Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon got off to an excellent start, but turned from promising futures with the Tigers to struggling at the very bottom of the rotation.
The Tigers need a starting pitcher and there are two names that would look great on a Tigers uniform.
Johnny Cueto – CIN (6-6 | 2.73 ERA | 113 SO)
The first and most important piece for the Tigers to add is Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds have come to terms with the fact that they are out of contention and need to rebuild. Cueto’s record should look a lot better, but the Reds have been unable to give him any run support.
Cueto is probably the most sought after pitcher before the trade deadline, and there are a lot of teams out there that could offer the Reds more than the Tigers could.
Cole Hamels – PHI (5-7 | 3.64 ERA | 123 SO)
The next man on the list would not be the best pitcher available, but he is someone that could help.
Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies is another potential trade target for the Tigers. His record is not the same as it once was, but do not let that fool you into thinking he is bad. Like Cueto, Hamels is not getting a lot of run support from a terrible Phillies team.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]”The Tigers are a few small moves away from making a run at their first World Series Championship since 1984.”[/su_pullquote]The Tigers absolutely need a starting pitcher if they want to make a playoff run. David Price and Anibal Sanchez are atop the Tigers rotation as the two best pitchers on the staff. Justin Verlander showed signs of returning to his old form in his last start in the Twins series. If Verlander can continue that form, it will lay down the foundation of a successful pitching staff.
Adding Cueto or Hamels to the staff could help the Tigers’ starters return to the top. They might even want to look into adding a piece for the bullpen such as Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon or Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.
The Tigers are a few small moves away from making a run at their first World Series Championship since 1984. They have a dynamite lineup and their only fault lies in the pitching. Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch is not afraid to spend money and has a clear win-now mentality.